A Kansas decoy company is helping bowhunters get up close and personal with their target species.
Heads Up Decoy, based out of Hays, offers a variety of light-weight, portable decoys that are known for bringing deer, elk, moose and turkeys in close thanks to their photo-realistic cloth bodies, which are draped over support frames to keep the correct shape. These unique decoys can attach to a hunter's bow, a tree or even be stood up in a cornfield or held by a fellow hunter.
"We underestimated their effectiveness early on and then we started pushing the envelope as far as how to use them," said Garrett Roe, owner of Heads Up Decoy, during last month’s Kansas Monster Buck Classic in Topeka. "We just came up with new bowhunting tactics that are unique to our product. We’ve been doing it since 2008, so we’ve had a lot of water under the bridge, lot of experience and a lot of fun with them, actually."
Among the company's featured products are decoys for antelope, whitetail bucks and does, mule bucks and does, elk, moose and turkeys, as well as ground stakes, handles, mounts, apparel and turkey calls made by Phelps. There is also a deer grunt call available from Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls and Supplies on the company’s website, https://www.headsupdecoy.com/.
"It first started out with elk hunting, and when we elk hunted we were in dark timber," Roe said. "We knew that we needed a decoy that we’d take every single day of our hunt, not just the first couple of days. Something that was ready on demand, light weight, something that we could move physically and draw the attention of an elk."
After designing the elk, the next designs to come down the pipeline were their antelope and mule deer decoys, he said.
"We knew the mule deer doe was going to be solid out there in western Kansas and wherever mule deer live, and it’s proven itself," Roe said. "Then we got into the whitetail and turkey and it’s been history since."
On the company's YouTube channel, there are videos of several game species coming in super close to hunters, a few even charging them looking for a fight with the decoys.
"We were pretty aggressive with these during the rut, these help you be very aggressive with hunting," Roe said. "We found that sometimes that’s the best way to use them, is to be very aggressive. So we do stalk them, we find a buck with a doe and we get in on them and then we show him the decoy."
Roe cautioned hunters to be aware of their surroundings when using the decoy, especially on public land, and said he wouldn’t recommend using it during rifle season for safety reasons.
"We don’t walk in with it," Roe said. "We get to a point where we’re as close as we want to get and then we show them the decoy and hopefully he comes in really unhappy, posturing.
"It’s a unique experience I wish everyone could see and feel and be a part of, when you have a whitetail buck — a big one — coming in on you with his hair all bristled up, his ears pinned back, swingin’ in on ya and you’re shooting him at 15 yards or less. It’s just really fun."
The decoys range in price from $59.99 for the Strutting Turkey Decoy (fan not included) to $89.99 for the two buck decoys and the moose decoy, all of which feature detachable antlers that can be replaced through the website.
"I wanted to make a product that can be versatile," Roe said. "That anybody who bowhunted could use it how they wanted to, whether it be conventional stand hunting where you could plant this up to a tree or if you wanted to put it in your bow or if you wanted to hunt with a partner. No matter what the situation was, you could figure out a way to incorporate the decoy."
Roe said there were other companies who had come in with similar concepts after the fact, but Heads Up Decoy really pioneered this type of decoy hunting. And while there is certainly a growing market for this sort of setup, he said not everybody has taken to it right off the bat — which doesn’t offend him, by any means.
"There’s always skeptics, and we don’t beg people to use our stuff," he said. "You either get the idea or you don’t."
As Roe showed off his product line at the Kansas Monster Buck Classic in January, he said he felt like he had a distinct home-court advantage being a Hays-based company when trying to explain his products to other Kansans.
"Everybody’s like ‘Cool, you guys are from Hays, Kansas,’ they love that part of it," Roe said. " ... I would hope that I’m relatable and that people would see us using it and realize that we’re not faking it."
And faking it he certainly is not, as Roe also walked away with the first-place prize for traditional whitetail in archery during the Big Buck and Shed Contest. When given his prize of a $100 Cabela’s gift card, he looked into the audience and found a young hunter in the crowd to give it to, instead, in order to keep the hunting tradition alive.
For more information on Heads Up Decoy, contact the company by phone at 785-621-4797 or by email at email@example.com or visit its website at https://www.headsupdecoy.com/.
Sutherlands Winter Classic
Sutherlands Outdoors in Topeka is hosting its 2020 Winter Classic from Feb. 22-23 at its store at 2210 N.W. Tyler. Showtimes are 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
The hunter-focused event will include big savings on bows, a youth turkey calling contest at 2 p.m. Saturday, a deer feed seminar with Kurt Nielseon of Genix Outdoors and a Green Mountain Grill rep on site from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
For more info, visit the Sutherland Outdoors Topeka Facebook page or call 785-232-3900.